A guide to Financial Support for Part Time Students in Higher Education 2015/16.

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1 A guide to Financial Support for Part Time Students in Higher Education 2015/16

2 Contents Who should read this guide? 01 Your student journey 02 What student finance is available? 03 Do you qualify? 04 Find out what you re entitled to 08 How and when to apply 11 Evidence you need to provide 12 What if your circumstances change? 13 Re-applying next year 14 Other sources of funding 14 Other useful information 15 My checklist 17

3 Who should read this guide? This guide is for part-time students whose homes are in Northern Ireland (whether they study in Northern Ireland, England, Wales or Scotland). It applies to the 2015/16 academic year only. It tells you what finance is available for part-time students as well as how and when to apply. You can also get more information from our website at and from your university or college. If you are a part-time student studying with The Open University (OU), you should apply to the OU for support. Contact the OU financial support team either by ing them at or by phoning

4 Your student finance journey WHAT STUDENT FINANCE IS AVAILABLE? DO YOU QUALIFY? i FIND OUT WHAT YOU RE ENTITLED TO HOW AND WHEN TO APPLY e EVIDENCE YOU NEED TO PROVIDE WHAT IF YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES CHANGE? RE-APPLYING NEXT YEAR 2

5 What student finance is available? Fee Grant and Course Grant Students can apply for a Fee Grant and Course Grant. The amount you can get depends on your household income and course intensity, we explain more about this later. You don t have to pay back the Fee Grant or Course Grant. You can apply within nine months of the first day of the academic year of your course. For further information on academic year start dates see page 7 of the PTG1 Notes which come with your application form. Disabled Students Allowances If you have a disability, long-term health condition, mental-health condition or specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia or dyspraxia, you may be able to get extra help through Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs). You can find more information on DSAs on page 10. 3

6 Do you qualify? To be eligible for student finance, there are a few conditions you must meet as follows: 1. Where you want to study Part-time students attending Higher Education Institutions in England, Wales or Scotland Students from Northern Ireland will continue to be entitled to apply for the part-time student financial package of a means tested fee grant of up to 1,230 and a course grant of up to 265 regardless of where in the United Kingdom they undertake the course. Northern Ireland domiciled students who wish to attend a Higher Education part-time course, including Open University courses in England, Wales and Scotland should be aware that from academic year 2012/13 part-time tuition fees have increased significantly. There will be no tuition fee loans available for part-time tuition fees from the Student Finance NI office and Northern Ireland students will have to financially make up the difference between the current fee grant and the tuition fee charged by their Higher Education Institution in England, Wales and Scotland. The student should establish the amount of tuition fees with their Higher Education Institution before committing to a course. 14

7 2. The course you want to study The course you plan to study must be of a certain type and lead to a recognised higher education qualification. You must be studying at a course intensity of at least 50%. This means you ll need to complete your course in no more than twice the amount of time it would take to complete if you were studying full-time (up to a maximum of eight years). How the intensity of your course is worked out Course intensity is how long it takes to complete your part-time course compared to the equivalent full-time course. So, if your course takes six years to complete and the full-time equivalent takes three, your course intensity will be 50%. Your course intensity is worked out by taking the number of part-time units (such as credits, credit points or modules) that you ll be studying in the academic year and dividing it by the number of units you would complete in one academic year if studying full-time. The result is then multiplied by 100 to give your course intensity as a percentage. So, the formula to work this out is as follows: (Part-time units) (Full-time units) x 100 = the course intensity as a percentage (%) Your course intensity can be different from one year to another. You can study at a level of below 50% and receive a Fee Grant at the 50% rate as long as you can still complete your course in no longer than twice the time it would take to get the same qualification if you studied full-time (up to a maximum of eight years). For example, if the full-time course is four years, you must complete your part-time course in no more than eight years. If you re not sure about the number of credits, credit points or modules you ll be studying in each academic year, you should speak to your university or college. 5

8 3. Your previous study You won t normally be eligible for a Fee Grant or Course Grant if you already hold a qualification equal to or higher than the one you re studying for. Continuing NI students starting courses in GB from academic year 2015/16 who change their mode of study. Northern Ireland domiciled students transferring courses or undertaking topup courses at a Higher Education Institution (HEI) in the rest of the UK, should be aware that where their mode of study changes (i.e. they move from a full-time course to a part-time course or a part-time course to a full-time course), they may be subject to the increased tuition fee charge when they start their new course. You won t normally be eligible for a Fee Grant or Course Grant if you already hold a qualification equal to or higher than the one you re studying for. 6

9 Students who already hold an honours degree If you already hold an honours degree or you re applying for support for a course that is equivalent or lower in level than your first higher education course, you will not generally be eligible for any further fee or maintenance support. This applies regardless of whether you have an equivalent qualification from a United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland or overseas institution and regardless of whether your previous qualification was publicly funded or self-funded. There are, however, some exceptions where you may be eligible for further support if you re studying a course that leads to a professional qualification e.g. doctor, dentist, vet, architect, social worker or teacher. Students who already hold a level 4 or 5 qualification (studied part-time) who wish to top up to a degree full-time From 1st September 2014 eligible students who have studied part-time and gained a level 4 or 5 qualification (for example a HNC, HND or Foundation Degree) will be able to apply for the full student finance package, including a Tuition Fee Loan in the first year of a full-time degree course. 4. Where you live Normally you must be living in the UK on the first day of the first academic year of your course and be ordinarily resident in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for three years immediately before this date. Ordinarily resident means where you usually live, apart from temporary or occasional absences. There are some exceptions to these rules. These exceptions are listed, along with more detail on qualifying for student finance, in Higher education student finance - entitlement to support and payment 2015/16 which is available at 7

10 Find out what you re entitled to There are two types of grant available for part-time students - the Fee Grant and the Course Grant. You don t have to pay either of these back. The following tables show how much you might get, and how this is worked out. Fee Grant What s it for? How much can I get? The Fee Grant helps towards the cost of the tuition fees charged by your university or college. You could get up to 1,230 depending on your course intensity (see below) and the cost of your course fees. How much you get will depend on your household income. Course intensity Maximum Fee Grant you can get 50% to 59% of the Up to 820 or the fee charged by your equivalent full-time university or college, whichever is course. lower. 60% to 74% of the Up to 985 or the fee charged by your equivalent full-time university or college, whichever is course. lower. 75% or more of the Up to 1,230 or the fee charged by equivalent full-time your university or college, whichever course. is lower. How s it paid? We pay the Fee Grant direct to your university or college. Do I have to pay it back? Anything else? No. If you live in Northern Ireland but your university or college is in England, Wales or Scotland, you should contact your university or college for more information. 8

11 Course Grant What s it for? How much can I get? The Course Grant can help towards the cost of books, travel and other course-related expenses. You could get up to 265 depending on your household income. Your household income Maximum Course Grant you can get Up to 26,029 Full Course Grant of ,030 to 28,066 Course Grant of 265 less 1 for every 9.47 of your income over 26, , Course Grant. 28,068 and over No Course Grant. How s it paid? We pay the Course Grant into your bank account in one lump sum. Do I have to pay it back? Anything else? No. You can t get a Course Grant if you already have a qualification at the same level as, or a higher level than, the one you re going to study for. 9

12 Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs) What s it for? How much can I get? DSAs can help with the extra costs you may have in relation to your course as a direct result of your disability, long-term health condition, mental-health condition or specific learning difficulty. How much you can get does not depend on your household income but will depend on an individual needs assessment. The table below shows the maximum help you may be able to get. Specialist equipment Up to 5,266 for the whole course. allowance Non-medical helper Up to 15,703 a year. allowance General allowance Up to 1,319 a year. Travel allowance Helps with extra travel costs you may have to pay to travel to your university or college course because of your disability. How s it paid? Do I have to pay it back? Anything else? We ll pay the money direct to the supplier of the service (or services) - for example, your university, college or equipment supplier - or into your bank account, whichever applies. No. If you re also applying for a Course Grant or Fee Grant, fill in the application form (PTG1) first, then apply for DSAs by downloading a slim line version of the DSA application form (DSASL) from Fill this in and return it to us. If you re only applying for DSAs and no other form of student finance, simply download the DSA application form (DSA1) from Fill this in and return it to us with up to date evidence of your disability. For more detailed information, you can download the guide Bridging The Gap: A guide to the Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs) in higher education 2015/16 from You can order forms and guides in Braille, in large print or on audio by ing your name and address, along with what form and format you need to: You can also phone us on This address and the phone number can only deal with requests for other formats of forms and guides. 10

13 How and when to apply You will need to fill in a PTG1 form. You can get a copy of this form from your university, college or Student Finance NI office or by calling the Customer Support Office on Copies of the PTG1 forms will be available from July Fill in your application form and take it to your university or college so they can: confirm you re a student; work out your course intensity (read page 4); and confirm the fees they charge you. 2 Your university or college will fill in their part of the form once you ve enrolled and return the form to you. You should send it to your Student Finance NI office (contact details can be found on page 15) with any evidence we ve asked for. Make sure you sign and date your form. 3 Once we ve received your application, we ll assess it to make sure you re eligible for student finance. We ll also check you ve sent all the information and evidence we asked for. 4 The Student Loans Company will write to you to let you know whether you are entitled to receive financial help and if you are they will pay any Fee Grant direct to your college and any Course Grant into your bank account. 11

14 Evidence you need to provide Proof of identity If you applied for student finance for the same part-time course last year, you won t have to send your identity evidence again. If you re a continuing student applying for student finance for the first time, you ll need to prove your identity this is to help us check you re eligible for student finance. You can send us your passport and if you don t have a valid passport, you ll need to send us your birth or adoption certificate. You ll also need to fill in a Birth/Adoption certificate declaration form 2015/16 available from and send this with your certificate. If you re a non-uk passport holder, you ll need to send your valid non-uk passport to us at the address on the application form. These must be original documents, not photocopies. We ll return them once we ve confirmed your identity and checked you re eligible for student finance. Proof of your household income To apply for part-time grants, you ll need to give us financial information and send in evidence of your household income. This is to make sure you get all the student finance you re entitled to. You should provide evidence (for example a P60 or payslips) of any financial information you ve told us about on your application form. If the income on which you are to be assessed has gone down by 1000 or more since April 2015 please contact your local student finance office. They may be able to work out your grant entitlement based on your income for the 2015/16 tax year. 12

15 What if your circumstances change? You must tell your Student Finance NI office about any change in your circumstances which may affect your entitlement to student finance. The most common changes of circumstances are: you ve changed university or college; you ve changed your course (but stayed at the same university or college); you ve left your course; your name has changed; or your address and contact details have changed. 13

16 Re-applying next year Remember, you need to apply for student finance for each year of your course. However, you ll only need to provide proof of identity the first time you apply. If you re applying for Disabled Students Allowances, you ll have to apply for these each year too. Other sources of funding Your university or college You might be able to get extra help from your university or college. Contact them or visit their website for more details. Your university or college may provide extra help if you re in financial hardship. Support Funds can help with course or living costs not covered by other sources of finance. To qualify, part-time students must be on a course which lasts at least one year and takes no more than twice as long to complete as the fulltime equivalent. For more information and to apply, contact the student services department of your university or college. Benefits As a part-time student, you can usually still claim benefits that depend on your household income (means-tested benefits), such as Jobseeker s Allowance and Housing Benefit if you re unemployed. Your local Jobs and Benefits office will not treat the Fee Grant or Course Grant as income when assessing any means-tested benefit. Please remember the information given in this guide is general. If you think you might be eligible for any of the benefits mentioned, please contact your local Jobs and Benefits office, Social Security office, Housing Executive office or student advisory service. 14

17 Other useful information Contacts Student Finance NI You can go to or call us on between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday, and between 9am and 4pm on Saturday and Sunday. Student Finance NI offices Student Finance NI Belfast 40 Academy Street BELFAST BT1 2NQ Telephone: Student Finance NI Antrim County Hall Ballymena 182 Galgorm Road Ballymoney BALLYMENA Carrickfergus Co Antrim Coleraine BT42 1HN Larne Telephone: Magherafelt Moyle Newtonabbey Student Finance NI Ards Grahamsbridge Road Castlereagh Dundonald Down BELFAST Lisburn BT16 2HS North Down Telephone: Student Finance NI Armagh 3 Charlemont Place Banbridge The Mall Cookstown ARMAGH Craigavon BT61 9AX Dungannon Telephone: Newry and Mourne Student Finance NI Fermanagh 1 Hospital Road Limavady OMAGH Londonderry Co Tyrone Omagh BT79 0AW Strabane Telephone: Covering local Government District(s) 15

18 Educational Grants Advisory Service (EGAS) EGAS is an independent advice agency for people who want to get funding for further or higher education. It is mainly concerned with helping students who are not eligible for funding from the Government. You can phone the information line on or visit their website at The EGAS office is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2pm to 4pm. National Union of Students (NUS/USI) Write (enclosing a stamped addressed envelope) to: NUS/USI Student Movement 42 Dublin Road Belfast BT2 7HN Telephone: You can get more information from the NUS/USI website at Scholarship Search UK This provides information about other sources of funding for undergraduates. The website is 16

19 My checklist START STEP 1 I ve read through this guide and the extra information and guidance online at STEP 2 I ve received a PTG1 application form from Student Finance NI, from my College or I ve downloaded a PTG1 form from STEP 3 From mid-july: I ve filled in the application form making sure I ve completed all the sections that apply to me. 17

20 STEP 4 I ve asked my College to complete section 6 of my PTG1 and then sent the form to Student Finance NI. STEP 5 The Student Loans Company has sent me an Entitlement letter telling me how much I ll get. STEP 6 I have taken a copy of my Entitlement letter to my college or university to register and also to confirm I will be in receipt of financial support for my course. STEP 7 My money has been paid. FINISH 18

21 You can download more copies of this guide online at You can order forms and guides in braille, large print or audio by ing your name, address, customer reference number along with what form and format you require to: or you can telephone us on Please note: the above address and telephone number can only deal with requests for alternative formats of forms and guides. Crown copyright June 2015 Published by the Department for Employment and Learning You may copy extracts from this guide for non-commercial or educational purposes as long as you mention the source. ISBN NI/FSPT/V15

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